Youngstown program seeks to tackle employment barriers

Roger Beltz helps people overcome bad driving records, a criminal history, even poor credit, which can all cause employers to turn down an applicant

The Mahoning-Youngstown Community Action Partnership's Employment Skills and Training Program is designed to help people tackle barriers that may be affecting their chances of finding a job.
The Mahoning-Youngstown Community Action Partnership's Employment Skills and Training Program is designed to help people tackle barriers that may be affecting their chances of finding a job.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – From speeding tickets to a bad credit report, many roadblocks are keeping many people from finding employment.

The employment barriers are affecting people in nearly every industry who are searching for jobs. Employment experts and those in human resources say it is important to look at all aspects that may be affecting your employment, even those you may not expect.

Shalonda Glenn has been unemployed for six years. She used to work in healthcare, saying it was her passion.

Then, her personal life took a turn for the worse. She wound up with a drinking problem and several OVIs. Ultimately, it cost her the job she loved.

“I have quite a few, quite a lot of points on my driving record due to OVI, which I’ve been working on that,” she said. “But, I can’t take the points away, so that’s a big barrier for me right now”

Now, Glenn is a student in Mahoning-Youngstown Community Action Partnership’s (MYCAP) Employment Skills and Training Program. She said she is trying to get her life back on track.

So far, the program has given her valuable information and most importantly, encouragement.

“Now I know there is hope out there for me, even though I feel like sometimes there isn’t,” she said.

Roger Beltz, employment skills and training coordinator for the program, said help is out there for people who are facing barriers in finding employment. It’s a matter of knowing how to navigate through the resources available, and that’s where MYCAP’s program comes in.

The six-week employment skills training program is geared toward initiating low-income individuals into the workforce. Eligible participants receive soft skills training, resume writing and job application assistance, job placement counseling and supportive services to find and maintain employment or continue on to post-secondary education or vocational training.

Beltz helps people overcome bad driving records, a criminal history, even poor credit, which can all cause employers to turn down an applicant.

Brian Devellin said he never dreamed his poor credit score would keep him from a job.

“It was quite a blow. I couldn’t believe it,” he said.

Devellin interviewed for a job and thought it was a sure thing. Then, a letter came in the mail.

“They sent me a copy of my credit report and told me due to my credit report, that they weren’t able to hire me at this time,” he said.

These types of barriers aren’t just problems for potential employees. MYCAP said some job fairs have stopped coming to the Valley, and companies have even closed because they can’t find employees who can meet minimum requirements.

“That’s why we see a lot of companies closing down because some of the employees coming on board just couldn’t live up to what the company wanted to have,” Beltz said.

Celina Williams works in human resources at Shepherd of the Valley. Her company is hiring now, but she said finding potential employees can be challenging.

“With unemployment being low, and especially in the healthcare industry, we struggle with finding applicants that are even looking for positions,” she said. “A lot of times, when we find applicants that are interested in the position, we struggle with, primarily criminal background checks, because of the state regulations.”

Ultimately, Williams said programs like what MYCAP offers can help potential employees get around problems in their past that would have otherwise kept them from a job. She said it’s about sustained improvement.

“You don’t have additional convictions. You’ve shown you’ve gone through the appropriate steps. There definitely is help and hope,” she said.

But experts say it is important to remember, there are no quick fixes. While there is hope, they say it will come with hard work.

“We don’t have a magic wand, and it’s not going to be waved, and those barriers are going to disappear overnight,” Beltz said.

Beltz said MYCAP is a good first step for people looking to overcome their employment barriers. There are lots of other resources in the Valley, including Oakhill Collaborative and Home For Good that can help with cleaning up your past.

You can find more information on MYCAP’s programs on its website.

Comments are closed.